Reclaim your rhythm

February is American Heart Month, a time to pay special attention to understanding, preventing and treating heart disease – the leading cause of death in the nation.

This February, the 58th American Heart Month, the AHA is urging people all over the country to “reclaim your rhythm.”

As I cardiologist, this is what I urge everyone to do. As a poet, I put my own spin on it.

Let it beat…

Every heart, in every man and woman alive

Let it beat in synchrony, let it thrive..

*

Who knew this heart would be weak

Though the family history seemed somewhat bleak

Optimism bias prevented you

From thinking you could be a victim too

Until you were on the table with a catheter in your forearm

You received help before incurring significant harm

*

You were annoyed at any insinuation

That smoking was harmful for your constitution

Your breathing was fine, you would insist

Any attempts to stop smoking you would resist

You ignored fleeting chest pains until the day

Your breath was literally taken away

Now the scar on your chest reminds you

Of the stub of the last cigarette you threw

*

An Epicurean lifestyle you epitomized

You tried every drug, partied hard, and never realized

The toll your habits would take on your heart

Until the day it stopped beating and got a jumpstart

You feel your defibrillator under your skin

When old habits you want to indulge in

*

Weight was your Achilles’ heel, you knew

Excess weight accompanied diabetes and hypertension too

Fad diets and exercise did not seem to work

You were discouraged despite knowing danger lurked

Until your breathlessness got worse and you found

Your heart muscle was weak, it was an epiphany profound

With the help of your team and your own

motivation

You turned your life around, in the right direction

*

You were proud of your workaholic ways

You sat for hours at a computer most days

Snacked mindlessly, your sleep curtailed

A type-A go-getter, you could not fail

Or so you thought until your heart sent

Warning signals to you and out of rhythm went

You are back in a normal rhythm now

Less stress and more sleep yourself you allow

*

You could not place your finger on what it was, but you knew

Something was wrong, beyond menopause blues

No one had even thought of heart disease

Until a random ECG showed abnormalities

You were stumped, you never had chest pain that you could recall

Besides high blood pressure in pregnancy, you had not been sick at all

That was the first time you found out what is now well known

That women have atypical symptoms of heart disease, you were not alone

Now you are vigilant about your symptoms and refrain

From explaining them away as part of life’s stress and strain

*

You thought from COVID you had made

A complete recovery, but you stayed

Short of breath, and your ankles did swell

Little did you know the trouble this would spell

The infection damaged your heart muscle some

You are on treatment now, you hope to overcome

This second hit that COVID gave you

You know this was not “just the flu”

*

So many risk factors for heart disease

Lurk everywhere, we must look out for these

The organ that accompanies us unflinchingly

From birth to death, throughout our journey

Deserves more attention, we must make

Changes to our lifestyle, for the heart’s sake..

Published by iheart11

A 30-something year old woman, physician by profession, fiercely passionate about work, family, travel and fashion..

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